By Karl Hofmann, President and CEO, PSI
Population Services International (PSI) applauds President Biden’s Presidential Memorandum today rescinding the Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance policy or “Global Gag Rule.”
We’ve witnessed seven US Presidents either implement or withdraw this damaging policy. While we welcome today’s action, we urge that the Global Gag Rule be repealed permanently.
The Global Gag Rule has no place in international development. It wastes taxpayer money and undermines other US foreign assistance goals. Examples of the policy’s damaging consequences include increased costs due to additional compliance demands, fragmented health programs, and loss of local implementing partners – the very partners prioritized in US foreign assistance strategy. Perhaps more importantly, the notion that some language is off limits – that certain topics may not be discussed even between doctor and patient – is anathema to deeply held American values around free speech. This particular effort to undermine women’s reproductive rights doesn’t change the fact that with or without the Global Gag Rule in place, US taxpayer money is not used to pay for abortions overseas.
Worldwide, an estimated 25 million unsafe abortions (45% of all abortions) occur every year according to the World Health Organization. The vast majority of these unsafe abortions occur in lower income countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. In many of those countries, unsafe abortion is among the leading causes of maternal death. Almost every abortion death and disability could be prevented through sexuality education, use of effective voluntary contraception, provision of safe and legal abortion, and timely care for complications.
Today marks an important return to US leadership in international development and global public health that will benefit millions of women, their families, and their dreams. Our Congressional leaders have an opportunity to cement such leadership by passing the bipartisan, bicameral Global HER Act to permanently repeal the Global Gag Rule, which previously passed the US House of Representatives and will soon be introduced in the US Senate.
Together, we can help all people lead healthier lives and plan the families they desire.
Population Services International (PSI) is a global health organization working in more than 40 countries. With our 50 years of insight, PSI reimagines how to bring quality healthcare closer to those who need it most.